Seth Brown


A Meditation on Aviation Frustration 
with the Transportation Security Administration

I don’t mind the lines for the check-in, if they’re short,
But every time I’m forced to go to the airport,
The TSA staff gives me looks of the glare sort,
Judged guilty, without benefit of a fair court.

Their sport hunting me doesn’t begin
Until they notice the fuzz on my chin;
Before buzzing me in to the line at security,
Every time it’s an absolute surety
Someone who works for the TSA will say,
“Sir, I’m going to ask you to come this way,
Please step aside until you have been cleared.”
So I look right at her and ask, “Is it the beard?”

She won’t answer. I say, “Ma’am, there must be an error, this
Fine facial fur doesn’t make me a terrorist.”
And I wonder if she thinks I’m telling the truth,
As she says, “Sir, please step into the booth.”
Does the TSA handbook say all facial follicles
Are clearly a sign that a man’s diabolical?
Frankly, I think that it’s not really fair,
The way they treat people who have facial hair,
They let clean-shaven men through with nary a care,
While they shoot me! … Well, they shoot me with air.

And you know that some punk-ass kid with a heater
Who has his beard trimmed up a little bit neater
Didn’t get hassled by the TSA greeter.
Now that’s what I call security theater.
Yes, Security Theater, you know that’s the truth,
As beardies and Arabs get sent to the booth,
And all of this nonsense has got me a-thinkin’:
You know who’d hate theater with Booth? Lincoln!

The great bearded man who once led our nation,
Who gave proclamations of emancipation,
might feel some frustration with this situation,
A clear-cut case of beard discrimination.

It’s the kind of thing that just shouldn’t exist.
So I think, as the woman yells, “MALE ASSIST!”
And a man is sent over to pat down my body,
That the way we treat freedom has gotten quite shoddy.

It’s not really that suffering this is so awful,
So much as the fact that it should be unlawful.
And you have to ask why, every time that you fly,
Constitutional freedoms no longer apply.
Secret laws and directives that can’t be protested,
You can’t read them—but break them, and you’ll be arrested.

My friends say that I’m being over-dramatic,
And if I don’t like ending up in the glass paddock,
Then maybe when I have a flight, I should shave.
After all, think how much trouble shaving would save!
I say, “Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!”
If I shave, then the TSA-errorists win.
When I fly, I’ll keep wearing my beard, and with pride,
Even though it means hearing, “Sir, please step aside.”

Seth Brown is a freelance writer and poet whose award-winning humor column “The Pun Also Rises” appears regularly in The Berkshire Eagle. He is the author of six books, including From God To Verse, a line-by-line rendition of the Torah into rhyming couplets. His website is